This blog is a personal take on Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am writing for anyone anywhere with a Listowel connection but especially for sons and daughters of Listowel who find themselves far from home. Contact me at

Tag: St. Patrick’s Hall Page 1 of 3

St. Patrick’s Hall, Lizzy’s Relocation and A Lixnaw legend

William Street in May 2021


St. Patrick’s Hall

St. Patrick’s Hall is located in Upper William Street, aka locally as Patrick Street.


Lizzy is on the Move

Listowel’s own celebrity chef is back on our screens on Sunday mornings. This extremely busy lady is also planning to move premises in Listowel. While she is not dropping the word from the brand name, her new café will not be so little at all.

Lizzy is moving from Lower William Street to Church Street into the premises until recently trading as The Nook.


Michael O’Leary’s Kanturk Connection

This old newspaper cutting from 1958 was posted by Trish O’Neill in a Facebook Group called Kanturk Memories. It is a photo of the wedding of Michael O’Leary of Ryanair’s parents. His mother was an O’Callaghan from Banagh outside Kanturk, down the road from my childhood home.


A “Pied Piper” in Lixnaw

Ballincloher pupils contributed many legends of the “Lords of Lixnaw” to the school’s folklore collection. This one seems to owe more to fancy than to fact. Reading the stories, it would appear that they need to be taken with a large pinch of salt as truth got well diluted by fantasy.

….The mansion and out buildings, which were many (some of the remains still exist and the place is called the Old Court) were at one time greatly infected with rats and were found very difficult to exterminate.

A strange man came along one day and offered to rid them of the rats. He ordered that a large building should be provided and fitted up so that no rat could escape out of it. This was done and the rat charmer, if such he may be called, went out in the courtyard, whistled a tune which had the effect of bringing all the rats from the surrounding houses and fields into the courtyard where the man stood. He continued the tune until all the rats were assembled around him, when he marched them off to the house which had been provided for them.

They all followed him into the house and then he shut and locked the iron door so that no rat could escape. He received the reward he had claimed and went his way.

On the following day a strange man riding a black horse drove into the courtyard and demanded the release of the prisoners which he said were locked in the building. The steward said he knew of no prisoners and the man in black pointed to the house where the rats were imprisoned and said he would rid him of them at once demanding to have the door unlocked. This was done and the man rode away with all the rats at his heels.


New Business in Church Street

Across the road from the former home of the man who gave us The Gift Of Ink another kind of ink business is opening shortly. We’ll soon have all the body art we can buy.

A Tattoo Parlour, I’m reliably informed.


Vincent Carmody in New York, Ballybunion in the 1920s and an anecdote about begging

Jim MacSweeney


St. Patrick’s Hall, Listowel on St. Patrick’s Weekend 2019


The Book Tour is Going Well 

Vincent Carmody’s Listowel      Gerry O’Shea

In the bar area of the Kerry Hall in Yonkers there are portraits displayed  of five well-known Kerry writers, and three of the five come from the town of Listowel or its hinterland:  Maurice Walsh from Ballybunion, author of The Quiet Man, John Moriarty, poet and philosopher from Moyvane and, of course, John B Keane from the town itself. 

The management of the bar would find it hard to explain why the marvelous Bryan McMahon is not on display or Brendan Kennelly from Ballylongford or George Fitzmaurice, a noted dramatist and short story writer in the 19th century or Fergal Keane of current BBC fame.

I have no idea why a small and – at first walk-through – an  unimposing town accounts for so much exuberant artistic talent. And now we have local historian, Vincent Carmody,  producing an excellent and intriguing communal history: Listowel: A Printer’s Legacy. The title is further explained in the cover as The Story of Printing in North Kerry 1870-1970.

If, like me, you associate the work of the town crier with Shakespeare and Elizabethan England, you will find out that the job was alive and well in Listowel in Queen Victoria’s time and indeed right through the Irish Independence War a hundred years ago.

Carmody displays a rather menacing photograph of Mick Lane, town crier supreme, complete with his bell. Apart from making community announcements, Lane saw his job as promoting the sale of various items of local interest. A literate man who liked verse, his best-known quatrain was:  

Go forth in haste with brush and paste,

Proclaim to all creation

That men are wise that advertise,

In every generation.

The author deals in detail with the Cuthberton family, owners of the main printing press in Listowel from 1880 until they closed shop in 1960. They were a prominent Church of Ireland family who included in their work posters and meeting notices ordered for various branches of the emerging nationalist movement  especially during the first two decades of the 20th century.

 The British authorities were very critical of a printing company, especially one with the Cuthberton religious pedigree, that was open to working for what they considered seditious organizations like Sinn Fein and the Gaelic league.

Mr. Carmody introduces readers to Sir Arthur Vicars who spent considerable time in Kilmorna House, an elegant Victorian building located a few miles from Listowel. Sir Arthur  was appointed custodian of the Irish Crown Jewels in 1893. In 1907 the jewels disappeared and have never been recovered. The Royal Commission that was set up to solve the mystery failed to come to any conclusion but recommended that Vicars should lose his title. 

In 1921, during the War of Independence, the IRA suspected that Sir Arthur was a British spy. They burned Kilmorna House and executed Mr. Vicars. There is still no conclusive report on the jewels or how they disappeared.

 An enterprising Hollywood producer could involve the indefatigable Mr. Carmody in untangling the intriguing  possibilities here. Vague rumors about a hidden vault at the north end of Kilmorna House might provide a good starting point!

The late Con Houlihan, a noted sportswriter and humanist, from  Castleisland, down the road from Listowel, wrote that all human life can be found among the people in a country village. Vincent Carmody confirms this observation in Listowel: APrinter’s Legacy which proclaims his love of place in every chapter.

 The photographs and posters with their stories entice the reader to flip  from page to page – auctions, North Kerry ballads, fairs and, of course, local productions of plays are all described in the language of the time. Special kudos to the book’s design and layout team, including the attractive cover.

 The Foreword to the book by retired teacher Cyril Kelly, another erudite Listowel writer, is exceptional, especially the four magnificent paragraphs describing the day-to-day work of Tadhg Brennan, a local blacksmith. I highly recommend Mr. Kelly’s contribution to aspiring writers and to old timers too who may recall visiting and playing with the bellows in their village forge fifty or more years ago. 

The book was launched in New York before a big crowd by Dr. Miriam Nyhan Grey of the Irish Studies Department in NYU in the Kerry Hall in Yonkers on Friday March 8th. It is available online at   


Holiday Snap from the 1920s


Happy a Butcher’s Dog


Beggars and Choosers

I got a very good reply to my post last week of a story from Mattie Lennon about his experience with the mendicant profession

Great piece about beggars and their targets. I’d say his willingness to give was the primary attraction! Many years ago, I was accosted by a well-dressed fellow who was drunk, and obviously seeking funds by which he could get drunker. At the time, I myself could not afford to drink, if I ever could! In answer to his slurred supplication I replied, as politely as I could, ‘No, thank you.’ He was genuinely taken aback and shouted: ‘I’m not effing giving you money, I am effing asking for it!’ 

Ballyclough, Dr. Croke’s House and the Battle of Knocknanuss

Photo Credit; Pat OMeara of Mallow Camera Club


Listowel in Bloom


Historic North Cork

On a recent holiday at home in Kanturk, my brother took me on a little tour of some historic places in the neighbourhood.

Do you remember Cleeve’s toffees? It all started with Ballyclough Creamery. This huge Munster co operative dairy was located near Liscarroll. All that’s left now is this roadside memorial.

The daily trip to the creamery is one of the rituals of farming life that is fondly remembered by many farmers. The accepted convention was that the man who was behind you in the queue came up and helped you to tip in your milk and  then the man behind him in turn helped him. The two men in the sculpture are most likely not creamery workers but local farmers.


Ancestral Home of Dr. Croke

Photo of the house before restoration from Cork County Library

Who hasn’t heard of Croke Park? Maybe you dont know that the Dr. Croke after whom it is named was actually a Corkman.

“Thomas William Croke was Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand (1870–1874), Archbishop of Cashel (1875-1902), and the first patron of the Gaelic Athletic Association, which was founded in 1884. He died at the Archbishop’s Palace in Thurles on 22 July 1902, aged 79.

The house in Dromin, Kilbrin, where Thomas William Croke spent the early years of his life still stands today. 

In August 2012, the house was gifted to Kilbrin Community Council by its owner. The Dr. Croke Restoration Commitee was formed by the council, and work began on a project to restore the birthplace of Dr. Croke to it’s original state.  ”


The Battle of Knocknanuss

This was a particularly bloody battle of the confederate war in Ireland. Castlemagner Historical Society erected this monument close to the site of the rout;

“The pursuit continued for miles and not only resulted in heavy casualties among the Irish, but also in the loss of most of their equipment and supplies. Inchiquin lost several senior officers, including the Judge-Advocate, Sir Robert Travers. MacColla and his men surrendered when they realised what had happened but were subsequently killed by their captors. Around 3,000 Confederates died at Knocknanauss, and up to 1,000 English Parliamentarians. The carnage did not stop after the fighting was finished. The next day a couple of hundred Irish soldiers were found sheltering in a nearby wood. These were promptly put to the sword.


A Sight for Sore Eyes

Mario Perez took this photo in Ballybunion yesterday

Cole Cutlery of Listowel and Photos of Tralee in the 1970s

Photo by Peggy O’Brien of Mallow Camera Club


Listowel Flowers July 2017


Old Tralee

These photos of Tralee were shared on Facebook by the Tralee Historical Society


When Listowel had a cutlery manufacturing industry

This Cole Cutlery catalogue was unearthed recently. I photographed the introduction by John B. Keane. It is a gem of colourful promotional prose.

The Old Woman of the Roads and a few loose ends tied up

World Poetry Day

Last week we celebrated World Poetry Day. To mark the day, Connemara Heritage and History Society posted a poem and a photo on their webpage.

The Old Woman of the Roads by Pádraic Colum

O, to have a little house!

To own the hearth and stool and all!

The heaped up sods upon the fire,The pile of turf against the wall!

To have a clock with weights and chains

And pendulum swinging up and down!

A dresser filled with shining delph,

Speckled and white and blue and brown!

I could be busy all the day

Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,

And fixing on their shelf again

My white and blue and speckled store!

I could be quiet there at night

Beside the fire and by myself,

Sure of a bed and loth to leave

The ticking clock and the shining delph!

Och! but I’m weary of mist and dark,

And roads where there’s never a house nor bush,

And tired I am of bog and road,

And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!

And I am praying to God on high,

And I am praying Him night and day,

For a little house – house of my own –

Out of the wind’s and the rain’s way.


In the Bandsroom

Vincent Carmody has been in touch to give us a few names for this lovely old photo which was first shared on Facebook by Mike Hannon and then on Listowel Connection.

Vincent is not sure if the competition was a Snooker or Billiards tournament but he knows the year was the early 1950s. He knows this for certain because his brother Maurice (Moss) is in the photo and Maurice emigrated to Australia in 1954.

The man at the table is John Enright and, if this was the final, his opponent was John (Chuck) Roche.

Included in the photo are Timmy Lawlor, Ned Stack (Ned was the secretary of St. Patrick’s Hall), P.J. Maher, Eric Browne, Kevin Sheehy, Seán Stack, Jeremiah Reidy, Stephen Kenny and David Roche.

Sitting in front are Matt Kennelly, Fr. Matt Keane, (Fr. Keane was the uncle of the great Moss Keane and Vincent remembers him as a very down to earth man who took off the collar and rolled up his sleeves to undertake a spot of painting with John Joe Kenny when the hall was being redecorated.) Maurice Carmody and Eamon Stack.

I know there are many blog followers who will be grateful to Vincent for identifying these young men and for reviving great memories of the bandsroom which for years was an institution in Listowel.


More on Hurst Hess

A few weeks ago I shared Eily Walsh’s story of this photograph. Hurst Hess, a German boy made his communion while he was staying in Ireland during WW2.

Many people have helped me out on this one. It would appear that Hurst came to Ireland as part of Operation Shamrock.

Operation Shamrock was a plan to bring German children to Ireland from post-World War II Germany.[1]

Between 1945 and 1946, the Irish Red Cross‘s Operation Shamrock resettled over a thousand children from war-torn Germany, Austria, France, and England. Most of these children were later repatriated to their homelands, but some were adopted by their Irish host families.

On 27 July 1946 a group of 88 exhausted and bewildered German children arrived by boat at Dún LaoghaireCounty Dublin. Within months hundreds of German children had arrived in Ireland, some as young as 3 years. Some had lost their parents in the war; others had their homes destroyed. The children were placed with foster families then returned to Germany, though some stayed and were adopted by new Irish parents.

About 50 German children stayed in Ireland and married Irish partners. A fountain was donated by the German government at St Stephens Green in Dublin, marking Germany’s thanks for Operation Shamrock.

This is from Wikipedia and I am grateful to Rhona Tarrant for pointing me in the right direction.

This scheme was run by the Red Cross and we know that there was a very active branch of the Red Cross in Listowel in the 1940s.

Maura MacMahon sent me this photo a while ago of a Red Cross social in Listowel in the 1940s. Maura’s aunt Maureen was a very involved member of this vibrant society.

I got this email from John Murphy; 

 I went to school with a german boy who was brought to Listowel by Johnny Beasley who was married to a Horgan lady.

The boys name was Helmut Wald.

He and I became good friends and he returned to Germany and we never made contact again.

Best Regards,

John Murphy

There is definitely material in this story for a documentary or novel.


Well done, Allos

Armel White of Allos proudly displays his well deserved award for Best Gastro pub in Munster.


Last Few from the 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.


The Taoiseach in Kerry

Enda was in Firies yesterday March 27 2017 opening Kerry Foodhub.

The Kerry Food Hub in Firies is now open for business! The Kerry Food Hub is a brand new custom built facility incorporating four food production units completed to a very high standard. … The facility is located on a green field site on the outskirts of Firies Village, Co. Kerry.

He met Listowel’s own Éabha Joans folk.

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